Setting as Tone

Lauge Lyng Pedersen


Why does the tone of a book matter and how is setting related?

- Each setting description can be very different and can evoke different feelings and tones to each reader.

Rain = Sadness

Sunshine = Happy

Darkness = Mystery or freight as well as sadness

Activity of Awesomeness

Overall Tone Given by Juan Rulfo

  • The overall tone of the book is closely related to the author and his feelings. Juan Rulfo grew up with poverty around him and people moving away from what once were thriving cities. This is portrayed in his description of Comala, as it represents the town he grew up in and how he watches it become a ghost town just like Comala.

  • The poverty that the people of Comala face after Pedro stops production, is the same as when people lost jobs during the revolution.

  • The revolution caused masses of people to move leaving ghost town behind and with it the hope of their old lives.

Overall tone of the book is very sad and has elements of hope as this is Juan Rulfo's tone while writing the book. As well as showing the people what has happened to Mexico following the revolution.

Comala as it is Described and Perceived

  • Juan mother describes it as a beautiful and very lovely place, however when Juan arrives he sees a different Comala. One that has been impoverished. There is a vast difference between his and her perception.
  • This shows the contrast between the past and present. It reenforces the tone of hope that is prevalent. She hopes it is still as it was and he is faced with the reality.

  • "Just as you pass the gates of Los Colimotes, there's a beautiful plain tinged with yellow ripe corn. From there you can see Comala, turning the earth white and the night light." (Rulfo, 4)

  • ""I mean, I wonder what could have happened to the town? It looks so deserted abandoned really. In fact it looks like no one lives here at all.""It doesn't just look like no one lives here. No one does live here." (Rulfo, 7)

  • These two quotes describes the same place however at two different times. The mothers description is filled with love and hope in the tone. Juan's descriptions is cold and very sad as there is nothing left.
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Time and its Tone

  • There is no real sense of time in the novel as the story shifts back and forth from the past to the present frequently. This keeps us as readers alert and constantly aware. It ties into the tone that Juan expresses with uncertainty and the emptiness that is felt.

  • "'I'm tired,' I said. 'Come eat something before you sleep. A bite. Anything there is'. ' I will. I'll come later'" (Rulfo 11)

  • "Water Dripping from the roof tiles was forming a hole in the sand of the patio. Plink, Plink, and then another plink. As drops struck a bobbing, dancing laurel leaf caught caught in the crack between the adobe bricks. (Rulfo 11)

Tone is very unsure and uncertain as well as a very empty and alone.

Literary Criticism

A Wrinkle in Time: Time as Structure and Meaning in "Pedro Paramo" By Deborah Cohn

  • "Juan Rulfo did not write literature like those before him; he worthy intermixing past events with currents ones".

  • "His works, too, reflect the belief that the past is not the past, for previous experience and the memories thereof continue to bear on an individual's actions and reactions...Rulfo obviates time altogether by situating his novel in the realm of the dead, who live outside of time and space."

Interesting to see the element of hope brought into the discussion when it is mentioned that the past is not the past.


  1. To what extent is the setting and how we perceive it, reliant on the tone and vice versa?
  2. To what extent can a negative tone sway the entire book or paragraph?
  3. To what extent are all authors influenced by their upbringing in their tone?
  4. To what extent is the emptiness and sadness reliant on the constant jumps between past and present?
  5. To what extent is the tone the ultimate representative of how we perceive something?